Access of Roma to personal documents in Ukraine: international and national experience

Access of Roma to personal documents

During the 19th and 20th of November, an expert workshop was held in the Kiev city on “Access of Roma in Ukraine to personal documents”. The workshop was organized by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE / ODIHR) in collaboration with the Parliamentary Commissioner on Human Rights with the support of the International Fund “Renaissance”. It was attended by representatives of the OSCE / ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti, international experts and representatives of intergovernmental organizations, representatives of the Commissioner Verkhovna Rada on Human Rights, Ukrainian state authorities and representatives of civil society, Roma leaders and activists, the Coalition of Roma Ukraine NGOs “Strategy 2020”, and Human Rights Fund “Progress”.

The main purpose of the expert workshop was building a dialogue and exchange of experiences between specialists in the field of legal aid for the Roma people. The main issues that were discussed:

– Access to obtain personal documents in the regions of Ukraine;
– Identify the main obstacles faced by the Romani people in obtaining personal documents;
– How to reduce the proportion of Roma population that has no personal documents;
– How does the lack of personal documents by Roma influent on the implementation of human and civil rights;
– The situation of Roma in Ukraine in different parts of the country, and those who have been displaced internally because of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.

“The Ombudsman has allocated the problem of Roma rights as a priority in 2012. Since then, the representatives of the Office with representatives of civil society organizations systematically carried out monitoring visits to the Roma community, the analysis of the legislation to determine what prevents Roma to obtain access to documents. The conducted monitoring showed that the situation in various regions of Ukraine is different. Thus, the most difficult situation is in the Transcarpathian, Odessa and Cherkasy regions; in other regions, these problems also exist, but less sharply”– said Sergiy Ponomarev. According to him, the situation is complicated by the distrust of Roma people to public authorities and the passive attitude of the government to the problems of the Roma community. Therefore, it’s very important to develop such a position of public authorities that would provide intensification of contacts with the Roma community on the basis of mutual trust.

“Prejudiced attitude towards to Roma by medical personnel leads to the fact that Roma do not visit the medical centers during pregnancy and give birth at home. That is why, as a rule, Roma life is life without documents”, – said Nataliia Kozyr, the project coordinator of the Charitable fund “Progress”.

During discussion about all the negative aspects that arose due to lack of personal documents in the Roma community, it was decided to develop specific recommendations for government agencies at all levels about the necessary legislative changes concerning complications in the process of certification.

Expert workshop ended with discussion of the further steps aimed to provide not only the recommendations, but also possible activities.

The press center of the Charitable fund “Progress”